The Guéranger Blog

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! You have stumbled across the notebook I use to record my thoughts as I read through Dom Prosper Gueranger's 15-volume set, The Liturgical Year. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of Catholic theology and an enthusiasm for Gueranger's magnum opus. Think of it as the Liturgical Year fan site!

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Rogation Day Thoughts

Canisius | 07 May, 2007 22:17

In the Old Calendar, today begins the Rogation Days. As he contemplates the exhausting penitential processions customary in past times, Dom Gueranger falls into one of the few sarcastic statements I have seen in this devotional series (IX, 132):

The faithful of those days had not made the discovery, which was reserved for modern times, that one requisite for religious processions is that they be as short as possible.

Dom Gueranger points out that the penitential nature of these days is rather odd given that we are still within the Easter season, but his explanation of the mystery involved is beautiful: as the time of the Ascension draws near, we feel a twinge of sorrow at the thought that our Lord will soon leave us (IX, 130). Gueranger believed that the Holy Spirit guides the Church in liturgical development, even when, as is the case for today, a liturgical practice is rooted in some historical particular rather than considerations of general fittingness. Dom Gueranger always seeks to find a good reason for the way things were in his day, and the results are sometimes splendid.

He has his limits. Although he will not say so, his pain at the bizarre anticipation of Easter on Saturday morning is evident (VI, 550-552). His theory of the inspiration of the liturgy is not a precisely delineated theory but a general approach that instinctively notes the exceptions.

While staying within Dom Gueranger's attitude of reverence for the Church's guidance, I do wonder about the way such bumps and oddities in the year as Rogation Days have been dropped. Walking through the year with Gueranger, I have been introduced to Ember Days, interesting liturgical variations for specific feasts, and other peculiarities I cannot remember. It seems as though the current calendar aims for clarity at the expense of interest: Easter is just Easter, long and flat; Advent arrives in its place without any heralds; the Old Testament saints are gone, with the troubling theological questions they raise.

Of course we want a liturgy that makes sense; but do we change the liturgy to fit what we see as sense or do we find sensible explanations for what we see in the liturgy? Dom Gueranger offers a good example of how the latter approach can succeed.


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